The Science Behind the Song Stuck in Your Head

XBlog caught this LA Times article about a marketing professor looking for the truth about sticky songs -- songs that refuse to leave your head. Successful recipes for stickiness include simplicity, repetitive patterns, and incongruity. Kellaris, a marketing teacher who moonlights as a bouzouki player in a Greek band, theorizes that certain types of music operate like mental mosquito bites. They create a "cognitive itch" that can only be scratched by replaying the tune in the mind. The more the brain scratches, the worse the itch gets. The syndrome is triggered when "the brain detects an incongruity or something 'exceptional' in the musical stimulus," he explained in a report made earlier this year to the Society for Consumer Psychology. To help determine which factors cause songs to stick, Kellaris surveyed 1,000 students at four universities. ... Sacks says the songs tend to be "music that was popular or important in the first 15 years of the person's life." In other words, future generations can expect to hallucinate Eminem, Britney Spears and the theme from Barney the dinosaur. Good luck youngsters. I'm stuck with the like of Gilligan's Island and various awful 70's songs. Damn you pop culture!